Cooking for Two, the second time around

I was checking out Google’s new, expanded newspaper archives this weekend, because Toby’s been feeling under the weather and I’ve renewed my pledge to attempt to cook more. First of all, let me say that I’ve believed this site will revolutionize Clipped & Diced since the moment I heard about it on Lifehacker.

First of all, as a big visual person, I was floored to see the timeline breakdown of when articles were published. Here’s what I saw when I searched for recipes.

One of the first pieces I found was an LA Times article discussing the increase in recipes designed for two diners. Toby and I receive subscriptions to several magazines targeted for two-person households, and we have a few cookbooks along those same lines. The interesting part of the article to me was the fact that it was printed in 1986. It could have very well been written today.

Look at the increase in articles that match the term “Cooking for Two” over time.

Twenty years after the L.A. Times article was written, the Pillsbury Bake-Off caught onto the trend and added a Cooking for Two category, as I discovered from The (Doylestown, PA) Intelligencer. However, it appears as though by 2008, the category was eliminated. Never fear, I contacted the folks at Pillsbury as to the history of this category, and perhaps they will get back in touch with me.

I needed more facts and figures. So I went to the US Census Web site and trolled through a few reports.

The image is tiny (I took a screen capture from the PDF I opened at school), but you can see two-person households increased from 25.2 million in 1980 to 34.4 million in 2000. That’s a lot more potential subscribers to Cooking for 2 magazine.

The previous image may have seemed dramatic, but this graph indicates that the average household size actually only decreased from 2.75 people to 2.59 people between 1980 and 2000. According to the Cansus Bureau, “The steepest decline in average household size occurred in the 1970s, a period coinciding with the baby-bust period, relatively low levels of immigration, and increasing proportions of people living alone.” Additionally, the relatively small chance between 1990 and 2000 may be because of “higher immigration levels and the tendency for immigrants to live in larger households.”

Have I mentioned the Census Bureau is a delightful source of random interesting information?

For our attempt at a two-person meal, Toby and I settled on a 2004 recipe from our very own Seattle Times.

Red Curry Chicken Saute with Coconut and Lime

– 1 baby bok choy
– 2 green onions
– ¾ teaspoon cornstarch
– ½ cup light coconut milk
– 1/3 cup reduced-sodium and fat chicken broth
– 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
– 2 boneless and skinless chicken breast halves
– 3 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
– ½ to ¾ teaspoon red curry paste
– 1 tablespoon lime juice
– Hot, cooked rice

1. Separate the bok choy leaves, then cut both stems and leaves on the diagonal into ¼-inch-thick slices. Discard all but 2 inches of the onion greens. Slice thinly on the diagonal and set aside.

2. Put the cornstarch into a measuring cup and whisk in a couple tablespoons of coconut milk. When smooth, whisk in the remaining milk. Combine broth and fish sauce. Slice each chicken breast in half crosswise, then lengthwise into thin strips.

3. In a heavy skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. When hot, put the bok choy stems into the pan and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add the leaves and cook another minute. Remove from the pan.

4. Pour the remaining 2 teaspoons oil into the pan. When hot, add chicken and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove from pan. Put the curry paste into the pan, mashing briefly with the back of a spoon. Add green onions, saving a few for garnish, and stir briefly. Remove pan from heat and slowly add coconut milk, stirring until well-blended with the curry. Put back on heat and stir in broth. Simmer a couple minutes, until thickened. Pour juices that have accumulated around chicken into the pan and simmer 30 seconds. Stir in lime juice, chicken and bok choy. Simmer a few minutes to blend, then spoon over rice. Sprinkle reserved green onions on top.

Notes

  • I was able to do this! Me! So it’s really not that difficult.
  • Toby thinks you should add more curry if you attempt this. Not a lot, but some.

The funny part about this was that we actually had a hard time finding just two chicken breasts, so we increased the recipe by half to add another breast in. Cooking for two fans claim that too many leftovers just won’t do, but I’m floored by the fact that both Toby and I will have lunch ready to go tomorrow!

This begs the question, if you live in a one- or two- person household, do you cook for two? Or do you reap the benefits of leftovers? And how much is too much when it comes to leftovers?

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Published in: on October 26, 2008 at 7:22 pm  Comments (3)  
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Duh

Somehow I managed to stumble across this article, after searching fruitlessly in December.

Marinated Flank Steak Salad

For the full story, see here.

The End!

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Published in: on February 11, 2008 at 6:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Just an ordinary guy

Before we left for Michigan, Toby and I made our trip to UW to scrounge through the L.A. Times microfiche. We were on a quest to satisfy my inexplicable curiosity with what sort of students would undertake a marinated flank steak salad.

img_0154_edited-2.jpg
The grad school library, Suzzallo.

Suzzallo is probably my favorite building at UW, and it didn’t let me down.

Searching for our fiche
Locating October 2004.

The fiche readers they have are pretty high-tech. They’re great quality, plus you can highlight any part of a page and instantly e-mail that portion to yourself. It was extremely convenient, considering that the machines I use at the Seattle Public Library require you to do a preliminary scan, a crop, a final scan, then a save onto a thumb drive (or print it and never have access to it again).

Searching through the archives.
Searching through the archives.

The pictures were pretty muddled, but it looks like the gents who crafted the marinated flank steak salad are just ordinary college students. I did notice that the article gives the disclaimer that these are part of the “essential (but adventurous) kitchen.” So these aren’t run-of-the-mill Top Ramen guys. That makes more sense, then.

I realized I never posted our final product, so here’s that as well:

Marinated Flank Steak Salad 
Ta da!

And so we arrive at the end of our L.A. Times marinated flank steak salad adventure. Thanks for playing along with us!

Join us next time, where we will either:
a) show you my awesome newspaper-related Christmas presents or
b) share the culinary results of Pat Nixon‘s favorite banana bread recipe (true story).

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

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Published in: on December 28, 2007 at 1:11 pm  Comments (1)  
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LA Times Photo Update

Well, we heard back from the folks at the L.A. Times in regards to the photo we wanted printed from the fantastically tasty (if complex) college flank steak salad:

 Hello,

… [t]he fee per image to post to your website is $230.

You may make payment by check:
LAT Reprints
my attention
202 West 1st Street
1st Floor
LA, CA  90012

or credit card:
fax # 213 237 6515

In either case, please include a copy of this email.

Regards,
Kate McCarthy

Needless to say, that’s quite a bit out of our price range. Even if we were to unethically purchase just a copy of the page and then scan it in, it would cost nearly $90 plus shipping.

Luckily, a Google search has revealed that Western Washington University, just a short 3-hour jaunt away, has the Times on fiche! Which is good because our other microfiche options would have taken us into California. I’ll see how next weekend looks for a road trip… Plus, I need to find out whether I need a school ID to access the computers.

No recipes until at least Wednesday of this week because Toby’s finals are keeping him out of the house until at least 3 a.m. most nights.

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Published in: on December 9, 2007 at 8:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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